Victimization And Its Consequences & The Power Of A Memory

The book entitled Mean, by Myriam Gurba, expresses ideas concerning victimization, consequences, and memory. The end of the book only reinforces this, while providing specific examples. Gurba discusses how she became a victim of sexual assault. The end of the book is where readers get to see some of the consequences of being a victim and the power that a memory holds.

Gurba goes on about her life and talks about various events that occur throughout it. Towards the end of the book, Gurba is past the point of discussing her assault but goes into topic of ideas she plans to carry out.  She states, “It seemed like a good idea to have sex with someone and ruin his family. I wanted to see whether or not my pussy had the mettle for this. Males had co-opted my genitalia to prove their destructive powers, and I felt it was time to reclaim their destructive powers for my own use” (146).  By this, Gurba is seeking out revenge on men. Because of her sexual assault, she feels she wants to turn the male’s destructive powers around on themselves. She is looking to hurt them, in a different way than they hurt her, but still in a powerfully painful way.

Memory holds a lot of power as well. Part of the consequences of victimization is a memory and it’s lingering presence. Gurba also experiences the power of a memory and what it can do to the brain. She states, “I really like the phrase ‘the chaos of memories’. My spirit latches onto it and wraps its arms around its queer, hairy legs. The phrase expresses what kind of happens to your brain during and after trauma. Chaos roots itself into the memory. My chaos came when a Mexican man sexually assaulted me on a sidewalk in the afternoon sun” (154). Gurba found a quote that she can relate to; ‘the chaos of memories.’ Her assault has left her scared with trauma, we know this because of this quote. She says that chaos roots itself into the memory and that her chaos came after her assault. The simple fact that she brought up the assault again and discusses how it digs itself into one’s memory shows how she was affected by this. She continues to bring up her assault throughout the book, this is a side effect of her trauma. Not only does the memory of the assault stick with her, but also the memory of the girl who was murdered by the same man who assaulted her. Gurba says,”…but dead and dying girls have a way of taking up vivid residence in the post-traumatic brain” (164). This is yet another side effect of trauma and the power of memory. Gurba is constantly thinking about these negative topics that have to do with her assault. She will be forever affected by this.

However, this effect may have to do with her love of history. She says, “Yeah, history class was where I got molested. Nonetheless, I couldn’t stop taking history classes. I really love history. Everything has a history” (150). Despite her negative history, Gurba is interested in learning all about history. Shortly after this is mentioned, we find out that she becomes a history teacher (162). This is ironic considering how badly influenced her memory and history were to her. It may not be good for her to be teaching history because it could institute thought for her past. Negative thoughts could have the potential to be picked up quickly.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there a memory that had an impact on you? (it can be good or bad) What was that impact?
  2. What are some of your own examples you could find from the book (pages 145-175) concerning ‘the power of memory’?


10 thoughts on “Victimization And Its Consequences & The Power Of A Memory”

  1. Hi Hallie, I really enjoyed reading your blog post and thought you made great points. You mentioned in your third paragraph, “Memory holds a lot of power as well” and I can relate a lot to that comment. As for your question: Is there a memory that had an impact on you? (it can be good or bad) What was that impact?
    At my old school, my car got t-boned in the parking lot two years ago in April. This is an extreme vivid memory to me and when I talk about it, everything that happened in that split second comes to mind, including the way my head moved causing me to get whiplash. To say the least, this memory has impacted my life a lot. I didn’t drive for about a month because I was so fearful, and now I drive through parking lots really slow to avoid getting hit. Memories definitely hold a lot of power because of their impact on your life, they become a part of you.

    1. Hallie,
      I enjoyed reading your blog post and your analysis on quotes from the book. To answer your question about a memory that has impacted me, I think about the day when my dog passed earlier this year. I was in 2nd grade when my parents decided to get me a puppy as I was the only child. From 2nd grade until the end of my sophomore year in college, my dog was my best friend. I remember sitting in the vet’s office while they examined her to figure out why she was breathing really hard. To hear them say that she would not have much time left was hard enough. Later that night, my parents and I watched her as she took her final breath. For weeks, I had flashbacks of those moments as if I was reliving them again. But today, although that memory is vivid, it’s still in my mind. As much as I want another dog, I don’t really want to experience the pain of loosing them 12-14 years later. As for what you said in your blog post, “memory holds a lot of power”.

  2. Hallie,
    I like how you brought up the quote “It seemed like a good idea to have sex with someone and ruin his family.” because it’s kind of ironic how she really thought that would be a good thing to do in that situation. Many people believe that two wrongs do not make a right but she has been hurt so much mentally that she really believes she should do it and it would prove something. You also made a good point in saying “Because of her sexual assault, she feels she wants to turn the male’s destructive powers around on themselves.” That is exactly what she is trying to do without actually saying it. With that being said, Gurba was pretty comfortable talking about her rape after a while:“Yeah. When I was nineteen, I sort of got raped.” (268 ebook). Although it will always be with her mentally, she pretty much can talk about it with anyone now, and I think that is one of the reasons she has no problems with getting revenge. One memory that I have in my life that has an impact on my life is when my high school baseball team won the city championship. Whenever I think about all of the adversity we went through as a team, it reminds me that nothing in life comes easy, everything requires hard work and dedication.

  3. Hallie,
    I really enjoyed your analysis of the reading for Mean. To answer your discussion questions: The memory that stands out the most to me is the story (at the beginning of the book) of the Mexican woman who was raped and killed. This memory impacted me most intensely because it is so graphic. It clearly depicts the horrific situation to the readers and aids them in imagining how terrible the murder was for the girl and any witnesses. The narrator goes on to explain how the memory and ghost of this girl, Sophia are always with her, implying the power that memory can have (p. 3). An example of the ‘power of memory’ is found in Maria’s statement, “Like a chipmunk, I hoard the memory of all the sensations that happened to me that afternoon by the railroad tracks. I invite some people to experience parts of the assemblage” (p. 154). This quote shows how Maria carries the memory of her sexual assault with her everywhere she goes and uses it to share her experience with others. However, she does not share all of the details with others and keeps the most awful aspects to herself, allowing them to haunt her in everything she does.

  4. Hallie,
    I think you did a great job with your blog post and I shared many of the same ideas. The quotes you used strongly supported your ideas and focus on the power of memory. To answer your second question, I found the lines, “The stripper was me and I was him. I was reenacting the history of that moment after the art museum from a different perspective” (151). This reminded me of how you examined the presence of history in her life and then becoming a history teacher despite never being able to escape her memories. I also found it interesting how she is experiencing a familiar situation from a different perspective, which may trigger the power of her memory. This quote is yet another example of how her assault deeply affects her actions and thoughts. She seeks out sexual encounters and relates them to her assault. As a reader that would typically be considered sad or dark, yet Myriam Gurba continues to use humor to describe these events throughout her storytelling.

  5. Hallie,
    I found your blog post to be really interesting to read. I do have a memory that has had a huge impact on my life. In seventh grade, I went to the doctors for a physical with many questions because of some stuff going on with my body. I came home from dance that night to my parents telling me that my doctor called and they needed me to get checked for a brain tumor. Next thing I knew, I was diagnosed with having one. I will never forget the looks on my parents’ faces when they had to tell me. You could see the fear and sadness in their eyes.

  6. Mikayla, great blog post! I’ve been lucky enough to say that I don’t have a specific memory that has left a lasting impression. However, I love that you brought up the topic of memories. I enjoyed this specific passage as I liked how she described memories. It seemed like a “nicer” way of explaining PTSD. Another example of memory I found was “I was reenacting the history of that moment after the art museum from a different perspective” (151). I liked how she said “the history of that moment.” It’s interesting to me to think of a memory as history.

  7. Is there a memory that had an impact on you? (it can be good or bad) What was that impact?

    Memories have the ability to impact lives dramatically. This is a common trend I feel in our texts read through the semester. Memories make up how we react to our environment and how our personalities become our own. I feel like memories are the foundation for our individualism and how we react to those memories plays a major pet in our life.

  8. Hallie,
    I really like how you brought up the idea of memories and how much of an impact they have on people. It is clear that the memory of Gurba’s assault sticks with her throughout the book, and has found ways to impact her day to day life. I also like how you touched upon the irony that Gurba became a history teacher, even though her own history and those classes have had a tremendous impact on her life. I think that shows the even bad memories can help a person heal and learn how to cope. A memory that sticks with me is that of my grandpa passing away. It was almost three years ago on the dot, and it is one of the most painful memories I have stored. Memories, good or bad, can leave an everlasting mark on a person and impact the way they view life or make certain decisions.

Leave a Reply